Editor’s note: Introducing Canes Country’s top 25 under 25 series. Last week, a group of us set out to rank the top 25 players 25 years of age or younger in the Hurricanes’ organization. We were successful in that endeavor. We took into account what players have accomplished to date, their likelihood of making it as a regular NHLer and the level of impact they’re likely to have.
On this list, you’ll find players currently on the Hurricanes’ roster and prospects scattered across the AHL, Canadian junior leagues and Europe. We’ll be revealing one player each week day (with a couple exceptions for holidays) from now through early January.
Let’s get started with one of the Hurricanes’ most recent draft picks:
Let’s get this out of the way first: Alexander Pashin is, well, on the small side. Listed at 5-foot-8, he fits into the recent trend of the Hurricanes looking at smaller players in the draft — four of their eight 2020 picks and six of their 12 picks in 2019 are under six feet tall.
The Hurricanes are banking on these players to develop in a way that their height isn’t a concern or a liability — that they bring enough scoring prowess and creativity to the ice that they show that they’ve found a way to succeed in a sport which still has a very “can’t teach size” ethic about it.
While his size may have been a reason he was left off of Russia’s World Juniors selection roster, Pashin is showing that he can put up the points to make his stature irrelevant. For the second year in a row, Pashin is playing at more than a point per game clip in the MHL. Despite being one of the smallest players on Tolpar Ufa’s roster, Pashin is only one point shy of the team lead, with five fewer games to his credit than Tolpar’s scoring leader.
Pashin fell to the seventh round of the 2020 Draft; he was polarizing in pre-draft rankings, with some outlets putting him more towards the middle rounds, while others advocated not drafting him at all.
Pashin’s skating and puck handling skill made him an attractive option to draft. He can make defensemen look silly when he skates around them, and excels at getting the puck into the offensive zone. He’s quick on his feet both with and without the puck, and is the kind of player you want to get the puck to, especially given his ability to get to higher danger areas on the ice.
Alexander Pashin (@Canes) scored Tolpar Ufa's lone goal in their 3-1 loss to Stalnye Lisy. He's now sitting at 27 points in 20 MHL games, the second highest point total on the team.#Canes | #MHL pic.twitter.com/WytPHXZlqF— Dylan Griffing (@Dylan_Griffing) November 30, 2020
There’s no doubt that Pashin’s game needs to mature — he has a tendency to try to get too cute with the puck, to try to do everything himself. He needs to learn that eye-popping dangles that don’t result in anything aren’t exactly going to endear him to coaches at higher levels.
Coming in at number 25 on our list, Pashin’s got a lot of work to do in his game to have a clear shot at the NHL. The hands and puck skills are there, but his overall game needs to mature. At just 18 years old, with just eight games at the men’s professional level to his name, he has time to unlearn bad habits and learn a more complete game.
With a seventh-round pick, this is a draft pick that’s all about potential. Pashin has speed and skill to succeed as a professional; he just needs to commit to learning to play a more well-rounded game, and needs a team that’s willing to be patient with him as he develops.